On Monday, Pope Benedict XVI opened the congress for the Diocese of Rome on the theme, “Jesus has risen. Educating for hope in prayer, in action and in suffering.” He told the Romans that they should not look to science and technology for hope and redemption, but to instead open their lives to God.
The Roman basilica of St. John Lateran hosted the Pope as he inaugurated the ecclesial congress which will last from June 9-12. He spoke to those gathered on the theme of hope in today’s society.
"In today's society and culture, and hence also in this our beloved city of Rome, it is not easy to live in an atmosphere of Christian hope," he said. "There is a widespread feeling that, for both Italy and Europe, the best years have passed and that a future of instability and uncertainty awaits the new generations.”
"Moreover," the Holy Father added, "hopes for great novelties and improvements are concentrated on science and technology." Yet, "it is not science and technology that can give meaning to our lives and teach us to distinguish good from evil,” he said.
Recalling his encyclical 'Spe salvi,' Benedict XVI emphasized that, “it is not science that redeems man: man is redeemed by love, and this applies even in terms of the present world." However, modern civilization and culture “too often tend to place God in parenthesis, to organize personal and social life without Him, to maintain that nothing can be known of God, even to deny His existence. But when God is laid aside, ... all our hopes, great and small, rest on nothing.”
"In order, then, to 'educate for hope' - as we propose in this congress and during the coming pastoral year - it is necessary, in the first place, to open our hearts, our intellects and all our lives to God, in order to be His credible witnesses among our fellow man," the Pope said.
The societal problems of Rome, which the Holy Father has addressed on other occasions, were also brought up in his speech. "An acute and widespread awareness of the evils and problems afflicting the heart of Rome is reawakening the desire for ... joint commitment. It is our task to make our own specific contribution, beginning with the decisive question of the education and formation of the person, but also facing with a constructive spirit the many other real problems that often make the lives of those who live in this city wearisome.”
The solution to these ills, Pope Benedict said, is “to promote a form of culture and social organization more favorable to the family and to welcoming life, as well to valuing the elderly who are so numerous among the population of Rome.”
In addition, the Pope expressed the Church’s willingness to help respond to the crucial needs of work and housing, especially for the young, so that Rome becomes “safer and more 'liveable'… for everyone, especially the poorest.”
Benedict XVI concluded his address by calling on young people to make "the gift of Christian hope" their own, using it "in freedom and responsibility ... to enliven the future of our beloved city."